A recent study conducted by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine has shown that the oral administration of a specific probiotic strain can improve symptoms of dry eye disease in an animal model.
The study’s findings were presented at ASM Microbe 2023, a premier event for the American Society for Microbiology.
The Issue: Dry Eye Disease
Dry eye disease, a condition affecting approximately 1 in 20 people in the United States, is characterized by insufficient tear production to keep the eye lubricated.
Symptoms include eye stinging, burning, inflammation, and blurred vision. Left untreated, severe cases can lead to eye surface damage.
According to Laura Schaefer, Ph.D., the presenting author, the gut microbiome has wide-ranging effects on various bodily systems, including the gut, brain, lung, and eyes.
Prior research by the same group revealed that mice treated with gut bacteria from human patients with severe dry eye syndrome exhibited worse dry eye symptoms compared to those treated with gut bacteria from healthy humans.
The study utilized an orally administered probiotic bacterial strain called Limosilactobacillus reuteri DSM17938. Although this strain has shown beneficial effects in the gut and immune system, its impact on eye health had not been studied.
Mice were initially treated with antibiotics to kill off existing gut bacteria and were then exposed to very dry conditions. They were given daily doses of either the probiotic or a saline solution as a control.
After five days, the mice that received the probiotic had:
- Healthier and more intact corneal surfaces.
- Increased goblet cells in their eye tissue, essential for producing mucin, a vital component in tears.
Novel Treatment: This probiotic could offer an unconventional yet effective treatment for dry eye disease, complementing or possibly replacing traditional treatments like eye drops.
Holistic Health: The findings support the emerging notion that gut health has broad implications for systemic health, including the eyes.
Next Steps: Human trials are necessary to confirm the effectiveness and safety of this probiotic treatment in a clinical setting.
The study marks an encouraging advancement in the quest for alternative treatments for dry eye disease.
It suggests that leveraging the beneficial bacteria in our gut may offer a novel and holistic approach to managing this common but bothersome condition. Further studies are eagerly awaited to validate these promising results.
If you care about eye health, please read studies about The growing problem of diabetic eye disease in the US and findings of The mystery of vision loss: the role of fats in eye health.
For more information about eye health, please see recent studies about how to protect your eyes from diabetes, and results showing that vitamin B3 may help treat common blinding eye disease.
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